The War of the Roses
The War of the Roses was the struggle from 1455 – 1485 for the throne of England between the houses of Lancaster (whose badge was a red rose) and York (whose badge was a white rose). In the mid 15th century, the weak Lancastrian king Henry VI was controlled by William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk, Edward Beaufort, duke of Somerset, and Margaret Of Anjou, Henry’s queen. They were opposed by Richard, duke of York, who gained support from the popular unrest caused by the anger over the Hundred Years War and by the corruption in the court. York was appointed protector during the king’s insanity from 1453 – 1454, but was excluded from the royal council when the king recovered. He then resorted to fighting. The factions met at St. Albans (1455), the Yorkists won, and York again became protector from 1455 – 1456. The wars, however, continued. In 1460 the Yorkists captured the king at Northampton and struck a compromise whereby Henry remained king and York was named his successor. Queen Margaret, whose son was thus disinherited, raised an army and defeated the Yorkists at Wakefield in 1460. Here York was killed, and his son Edward assumed his claim. Margaret’s army rescued the king at the second battle of St. Albans in 1461, but Edward meanwhile was victorious at Mortimer’s Cross and assumed the throne as Edward IV. Henry was recaptured in 1465 and the Yorkists seemed to be in command. A quarrel then developed over the king’s marriage, and Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, and the king’s brother George, duke of Clarence, deserted Edward. They allied in 1470 with Queen Margaret, drove Edward into exile, and restored Henry VI as king. Edward soon returned and triumphed at Barnet and Tewkesbury in 1471. Margaret was imprisoned and Henry VI died, probably slain on Edward’s orders. After 12 years of peace, his 12-year-old son Edward V succeeded Edward in 1483, but the boy’s uncle Richard, duke of Gloucester, usurped the throne as Richard III. Opposition to Richard advanced the fortunes of Henry Tudor, now the Lancastrian claimant, and he defeated and killed Richard at Bosworth Field in 1485. Henry seized the throne as Henry VII, and his marriage to Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth united the houses of Lancaster and York. It is generally said that the wars ended feudalism in England, because the nobles who participated in them suffered a great loss of life and property, and were, as a class, unable to contest the strong Tudor monarchy.
The War of the Roses